On a Wave: A Surfer Boyhood

On a Wave: A Surfer Boyhood

Autor: Thad Ziolkowski

on Mrz 14, 13
in

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On A Wave 300x457 On a Wave: A Surfer BoyhoodA disenchanted, unemployed English professor decides on a whim one day — partly playful, partly desperate — to sneak off from his temp job in Manhattan and catch a wave off a dingy Queens shoreline. How did he become this semidepressed, chain-smoking, aimless man, when for a few shining years of his childhood he was invincible? The boy is Thad Ziolkowski, who grows up amid the late ’60s counterculture in coastal Florida. After his parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Thad escapes from his difficult family — notably, a new brooding and explosive stepfather — by heading for the thrilling, uncharted waters of the local beach. There, buoyed by the primal force and tribal inclusion of surfing, he pours his adolescent energy into mastering the almost mystical intricacies of the waves. In the bosom of the surf, the boy is able to stay offshore for years, until his life is upended once again, this time by a double tragedy, depositing him at a crossroads between a life in the waves and coming back to land. Thad Ziolkowski’s language is gorgeous. Poetic, poignant, and disarmingly funny, his depiction of the sea is particularly breathtaking. Indeed, the ocean — magical playmate and harsh teacher at once — emerges as a character of its own. On a Wave is an exciting, unpretentious, glorious portrait of youth that should take its place in the tradition of such books as Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Frank Conroy’s Stop-Time. “I’m not a surfer, but I love this book. It’s beautifully written, each sentence a poetic marvel.” — Wayne Koestenbaum

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